Bodypainting by Mark Greenawalt
Live Demonstration at CopperCon 30

Windemere Hotel, Mesa, AZ
September, 2010

CopperCon 2010 Bodypainting DemoThis year's guests were Stephen R Donaldson (Author Guest of Honor), Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, and David Lee Summers (Author Guests), and Mark Horning (Music Guest). The convention was held at a new location, the Windemere Hotel in Mesa.

I had been brainstorming several ideas for this year's event and I was seeking a model that had a look that would inspire the imagery. I had a rough idea that I wanted to do some type of medieval maiden or warrior princess theme, but I hadn't refined the idea. When I discovered the portfolio of a model named Eden online I immediately thought of the idea of a beutiful elven princess. She had the mysterious eyes and was nearly 6' tall with the high heels. I was thrilled when I contacted Eden and she was available and interested in doing this project with me.

Next I began sketching a design and thinking about potential props to use for the photoshoot. A very close friend of my family passed away a couple of years ago and I was bequeathed his small collection of swords. There was one very sinister looking knife that I wanted to eventually incorporate into a bodypainting concept. The engravings in the pommel became the pattern I used for the sleeves and the carvings at the hilt of the knife became the thematic element I incorporated into the leg adornments and the loin cloth. Here is the sketch for the original design.

sketch of elven princess for coppercon

I had planned on having the model weilding the knife, but for some reason it just seemed like the image would be more appropriate with a bow and arrow. As a creative compromise, I invented a new weapon by strapping the knife to a bow. I also brought along a quiver and arrows and a volunteer from the audience found a way to use some strips of leather to strap it to the models back. Earlier in the day I visited a local costume shop to get the elf ear tips and while I was there I came across a beautiful elven tiarra. That was all of the props that I planned on using. I had a few ideas about the background that I wanted to use to avoid the standard look of a studio. A forrest in the daytime would have been ideal, but my timeframe was set at night and I am generally relegated to shooting the models in a ballroom setting. I decided to make a scouting trip to the hotel earlier in the day and I was very happy to find that just outside of the room where I would be doing the painting, there was a small pine tree, shrubs, and a little grass. I decided that that would be my backdrop.

For the half-skirt, I used a leather-like material that I had left over from a convention that I did in England. I sewed a hem in it for a leather string to slip through. To attach the string on each side, I came up with a diamond shape strip of leather and used some grommets to attach a keyring onto it. This assembly was glued to the model by first painting some liquid latex on the back of the leather and then, once dry, applying the leather strips to the model's hips using medical adhesive. I had debated with myself whether I wanted to just use bodypaint to paint the decorative loincloth on the model or whether I wanted to make this out of real cloth and leather. In the end, I opted to make the piece using more of the leather-like material and the triangles of leather. A few more grommets were added to hold the pieces together and to add a little flair. This element was also glued to the model using medical adhesive at the pelvic bone and on the back side at the tail bone. Here is a shot of some of the leather works.

Leather work for the elven princess costume

My event started a little later than usual this year with a start time of 11pm. Knowing that I was starting a new class at 10am the next morning at the Scottsdale Communtiy College Film School, I knew that I would have to work briskly to finish all of the elements that I had designed. In an attempt to further set the mood, I burned a candle that was scented of "Fallen Leaves" and I brought a PA system and I mp3 player loaded with the soundtracks to all three Lord of the Rings movies. I started by painting the top. I used several different paints for this project including brushed on black and gold by Wolfe Brothers, a gorgeous metallic forrest green from Krylon, and airbrushed Regal Gold from Reel Creations and Black LUX paint from Mehron for shadowing. The top was meant to look like crafted leather that had been dyed gold, brown, and green and it intentionally covered the nipples, but left a lot of skin show through the lacing.

My next experiment with this bodypainting was to incorporate a seven-pointed Elven Star onto the model's chest using colloidion. The goal was to make it look like the symbol had been carved into the skin as a body modification scar. It worked fairly well, but I found that the skin didn't stretch here as much as facial skin stretches when you use it there. It peeled up at the edges a little during the photoshot, but I think it still got the point(s) across.

The final touches were to paint the leg straps and adorn the elf ears. The whole process took a good bit longer than I had anticipated, but Eden was a fantastic model and stood through the whole thing without needing a break. She also had a fantastic repore with the audience. Here are a few images from the photoshoot.

Elven princess in the woods

Elven bow with wicked knife attachment

Eden Bivins as the Elf Princess

Dramatic lighting on Eden Bivins

Here are links to the previous CopperCon pages:

(Note-CopperCon 29 was cancelled)



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